The Helmet Rule Isn't Dallas' Only Stupid Bike Law. It's Also Illegal to Do a Wheelie.

Categories: Transportation

WheelieFlickr.jpg
_Wieds
Lawbreaker.
The Dallas City Council may soon decide that requiring adults to wear bike helmets is a stupid idea -- and if the city is indeed serious about starting a bike-share program, it probably is.

But the helmet law is at least aimed at achieving a legitimate public policy goal (i.e. keeping people from suffering potentially fatal head injuries). Other provisions of Dallas' bicycling law (Chapter 9 of city code) don't share that virtue.

See also: Dallas City Council Is Giving "Strong Consideration" to Repealing Bike Helmet Law

Take Section 9-2:

BICYCLES PROHIBITED IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

No person shall carry, push, propel or ride an assembled or operable bicycle in any public building in the city.

First of all, what do they mean by "public buildings"? Are they referring to buildings that are generally open to the public, like maybe the Oak Lawn office building where I daily roll my bike through the lobby, up the elevator and into the cubicle I've claimed on its behalf? Or -- more likely -- is this a reference merely to city-owned buildings?

Keith Manoy, a senior transportation planner with the city who spends a good deal of time on bike issues, isn't sure, though he had put in a request for clarification with the city attorney's office when we called this morning.

Assuming it's just city-owned buildings, you still have to wonder at what point in Dallas history this became such a scourge that it demanded City Council action. Plus, what about the environmentally minded city employees who ride their bikes to work and don't want them to get stolen?

OK, so that one's more pointless than outright stupid. Let's move on to Section 9-3:

STUNT RIDING; RACING, ETC.

No rider of any bicycle shall remove both hands from the handle bars or feet from the pedals, or practice any acrobatic or stunt riding upon any street, nor shall any person operating a bicycle upon a street participate in any race for speed or any endurance contest.

In other words, everything you used to do on your bike when you were 12. Woe be to you if a disgruntled cops catches you mid-wheelie, and woe be to the parent who's kid popped said wheelie, which is covered by Section 9-5:

RESPONSIBILITY OF PARENT OR GUARDIAN.

The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward who would not be subject to prosecution in the municipal court to violate any of the provisions of this chapter.

So, instead of just focusing just on helmets, maybe Dallas can repeal all its bike laws, except maybe the one keeping cyclists off Central and LBJ. That one makes sense.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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22 comments
MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

Dallas Police regularly ticket adults for not wearing helmets.  (Dallas, by the way, being literally one of the only major cities in the world where that is done.  You know, freedom-loving Texas and all that noise...)


Yet how many times has it ticketed car drivers for the much more dangerous offense of passing too close to cyclists?


According to Police Chief Brown (and h/t to him for the openness):


Zero.


Not one time.  For an offense you could literally sit on Main Street and hand out 100 tickets for every single day.  


https://twitter.com/DPDChief/status/431227920992837632


yahoo
yahoo

I had a friend get ticketed for doing a wheelie on the square in Denton within the last year. The judge didn't drop it either...it was considered riding recklessly. He was also cited for not having brakes on his BMX bike, which 90% of riders don't have. 

bill_foster
bill_foster

Here's what was so inexplicably left out of this cracker-jack piece of reporting:

The City of Dallas will be having to revisit all bicycling laws here in the near future. Why? The Dallas City Council has been exploring and plans to initializie a citywide bike-share program. The helmet law will almost certainly fall to the wayside due to the health implications and tediousness/cost burdens of having to rent and santitze helmets along with the bikes. SO don't confuse these upcoming revisions in bicyle laws to have anything to do with correcting what may be viewed publicly as a "stupid" law, but rather a step to incresing the public and economic viabilty of the city. Good look getting a politician to agree that the laws they passed are stupid!

jonnyroach
jonnyroach

I have been pulled over by officer Gordon for riding a wheelie. He followed me while riding it for a whole block, waited outside Renaissance Tower for me to finish a delivery (bc I locked up quickly and ran in). When I came out he told me he could ticket me for it. I call it jealousy, it was a sweet wheelie.

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

So according to Eric the helmet law was passed for safety reasons(LOLWUT?) but a law about not doing something that is actually dangerous has nothing to do with safety.


Not saying I support either law but you have a really strange way of picking and choosing which rules are big brother and which ones aren't. 

tdkisok
tdkisok

Show me a police officer who gives somebody a fine for doing a wheelie and I'll show you a major douche bag with his/her priorities askew.  

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Those wheelie/daredevil laws are to establish blame and liability if an accident occurs.  If an adult is fooling around on a bike and hurts someone/something beside himself, we charge him with the violation and leave a big thumb on the scale in the resulting lawsuit. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I just might buy helmets for the cats when I take them out in the catmobile. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

So is it $15 or $150?

My bike repair guy says the fine for riding a bicycle without a skid lid is only $15, but the fine fine they charge is $150 if you don't fight it.

He says the City applies the fine for riding a motorcycle without a helmet, but you have to contest the ticket to municipal court before it's dropped to the proscribed fine.

This is scuttlebutt, of course.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Who will give me odds that Dwayne Carriedaway be against this because 'think of the children'? 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on Stemmons Freeway and here comes those darn wards.

Mounted on rice-burning crotch rockets 95 miles per hour on rear wheels between gridlocked cars up and over the next overpass, and out of sight.

They didn't have their helmets on.

thilbun
thilbun

The Stunt Riding prohibition only applies when on a city street.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I've never understood the bicycle helmet law. Motorcycles don't require one but bicycles do. Then again anyone riding either without one, especially on public streets, better hope there's an open room at Baylor or Parkland.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Would be interesting to know if anyone's been ticketed for a wheelie.

How about a hands-off helmetless wheelie on LBJ?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Has anyone ever been ticketed for any wheelie or hands-off offense?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@tdkisok  this is probably on the books to keep the BMX'ers from jumping their bike on the JFK memorial and other sites downtown

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@NewsDog  He'd prohibit the playing cards clipped to my front fork with clothes pins.

Sounds too much like like gunfire.  Zero tolerance.

Another reason why me and my minor pals can't ride through school zones, or within a thousand feet of a Chuck E Cheese.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

That would definitely get you cited if caught. I'd say you'd die biking on LBJ but it moves about 5 mph these days.

wilme2
wilme2

@hentai.jeff @P1Gunter  No, that was repealed years ago.  Was an interesting political issue if you google the old news articles... 

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